You’re Not Like Other Girls Chrissy – Pulse Fringe Festival

Paris, the city of love. Scenes of countless romantic encounters, dreams, and even the odd broken heart. The city also represents a spirit of hope, never more in evidence during the darkest hours of the Second World War.

Its 1945 and Christianne, a young Parisian girl is waiting at the Gare du Nord trying to board a train to England to meet her English fiancé, Cyril, whom she met just before the outbreak of hostilities in the unlikely setting of a Staffordshire tennis club.

Christianne is determined to snare her man and her plans seem to be going to plan when Cyril visits Paris.

Up until this point, You’re Not Like The Other Girls Chrissy seems a traditional genial, light and frothy character observation. Christianne’s well meaning attempts with the English language turn her into a Parisian version of Mrs Malaprop and the comedy flows thick and fast. Then, just as the storm clouds of War began to sweep across France, the show also becomes darker. Barely perceptible at first, the pain of separation and the uncertainty over Christianne and Cyril’s future becomes almost unbearably poignant to watch.

Author and performer Christine Horton turns in a tour-de-force performance, shifting emotional gears so subtly that the emotional impact builds to a tear inducing finale. It is testament to the quality of both writing and performance that we feel so connected to the character that we follow though both the pain and laughter.

Horton’s almost poetic text makes it easy to envisage the multiple locations involved. She conveys vivid images that stick long in the memory. The shocking description of being told as a child she would likely go blind and of the glasses that made her ears bleed, the pain of being surrounded by cherry blossom as she receives a letter from her love breaking off their engagement and the heartbreaking decision she has to make to burn Cyril’s letter lest they get discovered by the Nazis.

There’s many a twist in the tale and it would be a shame to reveal them here and lessen the impact for future audiences. Suffice to say the final audio visual postscript will surprise many and demonstrate the real formidable nature of this remarkable woman.

Christianne’s story may have taken place over 65 years ago but for anyone who has ever been in love the raw emotion on show will be all to real. There’s no editing the past here to make a rose-tinted future, just an understated but ultimately gripping tribute to the enduring power of love. At the end of the day all that is left to say is C’est magnifique!

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